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Listening to the Girls of Benin City: Human Rights, Trafficking and Victimhood in the Italian Sex Industry

Riva, Sofia

This paper examines an archive of works by writer and activist Isoke Aikpitanyi, a Nigerian woman who was trafficked into the sex industry in Italy in 2000. Since her exit from the trade, Aikpitanyi has been involved in campaigning for a reform of the Italian state-sponsored anti-trafficking regime. This paper examines both her own story and those of other women, through an autobiography, Le Ragazze di Benin City (The Girls of Benin City, 2007), and a research project conducted with other scholars: 500 Storie Vere: Sulla Tratta Delle Ragazze Africane in Italia (500 True Stories: on the Trafficking of African Girls in Italy, 2011), which surveyed 500 Nigerian migrant women working in the sex industry in Italy. Through deconstructive analysis this paper seeks to understand this community’s subjective understanding of its own victimhood, and contrast it with the construction of victimhood put forward by the international, regional and national anti sex-trafficking regime, operating within a human rights framework. Specifically, this paper examines how these different perspectives affect how this community interacts with human rights mechanisms, and how its members design strategies of their own to either exit the sex industry entirely, or better their immediate circumstances.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Rosenthal, Mila H.
Degree
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
July 24, 2019
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